Monthly Archives: April 2009

Another Herd Immunity question

When a population has a level of lifelong immunity to a certain disease such that an epidemic of that disease cannot occur, the population is said to have herd immunity.

I am still very new at this, so I might be missing something glaringly obvious from people more experienced with epidemiology.

What stood out for me from the part that I inserted into my post is the life long immunity that is required for herd immunity to work. Each disease has a different herd immunity threshold. Measles is a disease that is often spokeמ about. So, the herd immunity threshold for measles is 83 – 94% immunity. I am interpreting this to mean that 83 – 94 percent of the population (from birth through to old age) is recquired to be immune – not just 83 – 94% of children are required to be vaccinated.

Why? In this article, I found it interesting that in the absense of circulating disease, immunity only last for 25 years. By having the disease circulating within the population, the population is exposed to regular ‘boosters’. Remove the disease, and the whole population is left at risk, unless they are kept up to date with vaccines.

What is potentially dangerous with this effect of waning immunity in adults is that adults can have much more serious complications from diseases like measles, mumps, and chickenpox. Essentially a large part of the population could potentially be at risk if they are relying on vaccine induced immunity for their immunity, and not up to date with boosters.

Another piece of the puzzle is that mothers pass on passive immunity to their infants through the placenta (I have read conflicting articles about whether breastmilk also confers passive immunity or not). And babies are protected from the disease of measles with this passive immunity. Again, from what I am understanding, passive immunity is not conferred when the mother relies on vaccine immunity, only if she herself contracted measles is the immunity passed to her infant. Which, theoretically could leave infants more at risk with most new mothers today not having had wild measles.

It is all theoretical. I have not heard of infants or adults coming down with measles.

I just am really struggling to get my head around these issues. I do not know if the scientists are factoring in waning immunity when they calculate the threshold herd immunity, but I am guessing they are not. I am guessing that it is assumed that the vaccine is fulfilling it’s potential to rid the human population of measles.


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Yom HaEtzma’ut



We had a fully vegan celebration – in starck contrast to the meat orgie that has come to represent this day of celebration for Jews both in and out of Israel. We still managed to over eat and I feel decidely stuffed over into this morning.

I had wanted to mark the day by attending a conference (scroll down to page 3 for English) on marking Independance day and the Naqba, the Arab story that runs parallel to the Jewish one. I do not seem to be ready to commit to actions yet when it comes to expressing my political views. DH also was not too supportive, voicing his opinion that the Arab story is in need of it’s own voice outside of reacting to the Jewish story. I can kind of understand that, but I feel very passionatly that a mutual recognition of the pain of both people carries the seeds of hope for this region….
In baby steps style, I did express my opinion with friends of DH’s. I was talking about maybe having a period of time not being in Israel and that I want DS to identify himself as Jewish. And that in South Africa I would find it hard to associate with the Jewish Community if the elements of Zionism and blind support for Israel are too strong. This felt like a huge deal for me. I am always nervous expressing an opinion that could be construed as anti – Jewish, or anti – Semitic. In my mind it is clear that that is not my opinion when I express my concern about being part of a community that blindly supports Israel whatever she does. However, it seems that it is easy enough to cry ‘anti-Semiticism’ should there be any questioning – or better yet, ‘self hating Jew’.

Anyway, back to my comment. It was very empowering to express my opinion and not be looked at askance and even be understood. šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚ Yay for the friends of DH.

DS is switching between being gorgeous and charming and heart-throbbingly adorable to just impossible as he screeches in frustration on what is becoming a fairly regular basis.

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Life goes on

I am missing this

I am missing this

We are back in our home, finding our routine again. For some unknown reason DS hardly pooped the whole trip and is now making up for it by pooping 4-5 times a day – real little turds šŸ™‚ (only a mother could find this at all endearing).

With our return back to our home in Israel – has come the intense, at times overwhelming feeling, that this is not *my* home. Yes, I speak Hebrew, yes I own a home here, yes I have a job if i want it, yes I have a few freinds here and I am even a citizen here. In contrast to what it was like to be near my family and to be in my home town – it is just not comparable.

I need support as a mother. It is not something I think I can manage without. For the health of my marraige, my sanity and the sanity of my child (children) – I cannot do this alone and in so much conflict.

Resistance is the word that has left the strongest impression on me. Resistance to the choices I make as a mother, wife and person in my own right. And I am tired of meeting that resistance. Not tired enough to just say ‘f*ck it, I’ll just change’ – but tired enough to contemplate relocating.

It is hard for me to consider asking DH to move his life. I feel the responsibility of taking him away from his family and his life/job/country/friends to be HUGE. I am not sure I am brave enough to do that. And yet, I was brave enough to move myself to a country that has seriously xenophonbic issues, a foreign language and a very different culture. And I have done it. On the surface of things it has been a huge success.

Like DH having taken responisbility for my happiness here to a certain extent, I think I would feel responsible for his happiness in ‘my’ country.

And South Africa is hardly a thriving safe place to relocate to. I do not even know if DH would find a job there or if we would be safe and happy there. I do know that my family would support my choices (if only because they know better than to interfer) and that they would provide the support and peace of mind that I so need as a mother. I just would not have to be going against the current when it comes to food, toys, play, lifestyle etc etc. And I might actually get out for dates with my husband, knowing that my son will be in good hands – that I trust.

I have not quite rid myself of my parents pervasive habit of being overly optimistic – but the one outstanding thing that did happen on our retuen was MIL’s husband going to extra mile and stocking out fridge with organic produce. He completely poo -poo’s organics – but wanted to support me in my choices and I will always remember that kindness.

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What it comes down to for me
What it comes down to for me

Being on holiday and having more time for musing, I have found myself thinking about what motherhood has meant to me,Ā  what I think has helped me to be the best mother I can be and what could possibly help other women and men be the best mothers and father they can be.

My experience of motherhood has been about the most complete experience that I have had to date. It touches on absolutely every aspect of my life, from how I wake up in the morning, to the food I eat, to how I interact with the people around me, how I choose to clean my home, where I choose to spend my time – in short everything. And of course how I choose to keep my family healthy. Being a mother has called me to be my authentic self, while being open to having my assumptions challenged.

Before I was even pregnant and while I was pregnant, I held fairly strong convictions about what babies needed. And the thread connecting my various ideas was along the lines of getting babies used to the reality of being independent and self sufficient with some sort of belief that the sooner this happened, the better for the baby and the parents. Kind of like proactive parenting, preventing problem behaviors before they start. Things like sleeping with your baby and breastfeeding on demand sounded like very dangerous ideas, choices that would leave the parents unhappy and unable to cope with an overly demanding and spoilt child.

The day I gave birth, in a private home birth left free to birth as was comfortable for me in tune with my body and my baby, was the day that these assumptions started to crumble.

My intuition told me to have my baby close to me night and day. It took some months for me to have the confidence to listen to my intuition and not worry that I was spoiling my child. And myself and my son have just blossomed under the care and support from my husband and me choosing to feel my way forward in my choices, rather than let an expert tell me what my child needs (often in a book).

In our family breastfeeding on demand andĀ sleep sharing (in the same bed) are working. Our son is just so happy and content. We have found a way to be the best parents we can for him. And I think part of why it is working is because I have left my intuition to do its work – and have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye on experts who try to sell their theories and experiences. No one knows my child as I do, and no one has the same responsibility for my child like I do.

So back to my musing…. just like there are some experts who believe that by starting a child out on early reading and writing,Ā  you make a better reader and writer out of that child, so there are experts who believe that by getting an early start on beingĀ independent for a more independent child.

I beg to differ.

I do not subscribe to the belief that earlier reading and writing make for better readers and writers. I also do not subscribe to the belief that scheduling little babies and children or training them to sleep or eat on an adult friendly schedule will make the child more independent. These are linear ways of looking at babies/ children and their needs. And I think is a disservice to meeting their needs in a developmentally appropriate way. Not to mention depriving the baby/child of the opportunities that actually foster healthy development – ie in arms/sling makes much more sense for the developing baby than a play pen does…. but that is a whole other topic that one day I hope I have the time to delve into. Looking at the development of the proprioceptiveĀ and vestibular systems.

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